Monday, March 30, 2009

It is 5:30 am

... and I've been awake since 2:00 am. And I'm not awake because of Parker. He is sleeping soundly. Remember my thyroid problem, yeah, I think they increased my prescription too much. I don't even feel tired. weird.

At least I got the dishes and laundry done.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

To Work or Not To Work, That Is The Question

I used to be a chemistry teacher and I loved it. I had a great connection with the kids at AMES and that is what made the teaching experience so great. A month or so ago I got an invitation for the AMES science fair. I, of course, wanted to attend. I promised that I would come back and visit with my baby after he was born and hadn't made good on that promise yet so I thought this might be a good opportunity to get that done.

I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed attending the science fair. I felt like a celebrity. All my former students came to talk to me and tell me how much they missed me. I even enjoyed hearing them say that I was a better teacher than the new chemistry teacher. (Is that bad of me?) Honestly, I don't know if that is true. I helped pick out the new chemistry teacher and she has a Masters in chemistry and many years of teaching experience. But I like to believe that it is true.

I walked up to the Principal of AMES, Al, and we talked a little. I said how much I loved the science fair and then he asked, maybe just jokingly, "Would you like to help teach the science fair class next year." Without even thinking I just replied, "sure." His jaw dropped, "Really?"

AMES has an entire class dedicated to science fair. The current teacher Tawyna Vickers is amazing. She puts in many hour of hard work to help these kids be successful. She has even written a book about science fair. This Tribune Article is about her book and AMES science fair. She does a wonderful job, but needs to cut down on her time working, hence the job offer from Al. I would help her teach or something. I'm not quite sure all the details yet.

I am meeting with Al about this job next week. He basically told me that I have the job if I want it and to come prepared with questions about the position.

The class is taught every other day for 90 minutes plus I would have to be there a little before and after which means that Parker would have to be babysat for 2 hours or so every other day. I would also have a lot of work that I could do at home: lesson plans, editing reseach plans, double checking paperwork and applications, corresponding with students and their assigned mentors. I figure I would be working about 10 hours a week on average: 5 at the school and 5 at home. It doesn't sound too bad until I think about Parker.

Leaving him with a babysitter is one thing, but I also worry about trying to work at home when he needs me and then not getting anything done and then having to work in the evening when I need to be spending time with my husband.

I don't NEED the job for the money. We are getting along just fine on Matt's income, but the money would be nice especially come next year when we will probably move to bigger house (with a bigger mortgage).

But then again, this is a great part-time job where I can still use my degree and keep my career fresh.

But then again, I don't NEED to work.

So I feel a bit of guilt. Does it make me a bad mom if I CHOOSE to work when I don't NEED to? I love being with Parker. I know some mothers have a hard time just staying at home all day, but I have adjusted fairly well. I keep myself occupied with projects and Parker is such a cute kid. I like...I should say I LOVE being a stay at home mom, but I feel like this is a great opportunity. They would be very flexible. I even think I might be able to bring Parker to school often. I've seen other teachers there do it. It is a laid back atmosphere.

So what do you think? Am I crazy for taking this job or would I be crazy not to take this job? It is a hard decision for me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Goiter Girl

This story starts senior year of high school. I was a pretty busy person who was involved in lots of things. I always thought this was the reason I was tired. I would come home from school, plop on the couch turn on the TV to watch cartoons (Spiderman and Recess) and within 10 minutes I would fall asleep.

I couldn't help it. I was exhausted. Then night came and I had a hard time getting to sleep so I would, again, plop on the couch and watch movies--always a cartoon, usually disney. I would actually rotate through certain sleep inducing movies like Land Before Time, Lion King, and Mulan. On an unrelated note, I think the Land Before Time is actually an allegory of our life here on Earth as journey to heaven.

(think about it: a spirit guides the way through many obstacles for
them to reach a place they can be together with their families. I think
Don Bluth ripped this story off the plan of salvation. He was LDS, you know.)

My family would make fun of me, not just for watching so many cartoons, but for being so lazy and sleepy all the time. Then, the summer after graduation my Dad noticed something. "What's wrong with your throat?" "huh? Nothing's wrong with it," and I stormed out of the room to see what he was talking about. My throat looked like it was swollen. I ignored it for a few days, but then I realized what it was:a goiter. I had learned about goiters in my biology class. They are caused by abnormal growth of the thyroid. I didn't want to post a real picture of a goiter because they can be ugly, ugly things. Google it if you're curious.

So I diagnosed myself with help from the internet and determined I had Hypothyroidism. I went to the doctor and confirmed my suspicion. It is fairly common in women so if you have many of these symptoms, you should get a blood test.

At first they put my on a high dose of thyroid hormone replacement. That kept me pretty wired at night during the first few months of my freshman year of college. I had serious insomnia. Finally they got the dose right and I've been fine ever since and my goiter went away for the most part. Throughout my pregnancy, my levels were normal. So my doctor told me to get it checked after I had Parker. I thought to myself, "I feel fine. It has never changed before. I'll do it later." So I never got it done. That backfired on me. I've been pretty tired lately. I even have to admit something horrible. I'm ashamed of it, but last weekend was pretty crazy and I didn't get very much sleep. Sunday came along, and I was too tired to wake up, get Parker ready all by myself, prepare my lesson and get to church on time at 9:00. That's right. I sluffed church.
I've never done that. I was just so tired and I wasn't thinking straight. Matt was gone to meetings, so I just slept in as long as I could. Fortunately Parker was tired too. I felt so bad. Then the next day I was looking in the mirror and noticed something. My goiter was back. It was smaller than the original goiter, but everything fell into place. My thyroid levels were off. I went to the doctor as soon as I could to get my blood test and the results were as I suspected. So my medication will be adjusted and hopefully I get back to normal. Moral of the story: listen to your doctor and you won't get a goiter.

Now I'm in the mood to watch some spider-man cartoons.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Am I Accomplishing Anything?

The other day I was telling Matt about how I feel. Sometimes I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything. I know that's not true, but that's how I feel. Raising a baby is a huge accomplishment, but it doesn't feel like it day to day. It just feels like I'm doing a lot of laundry, feeding Parker, cleaning the house, holding Parker, making dinner, and playing with Parker.

Those are all great things to do, but I don't feel like I'm progressing as a person. So I start all these projects to compensate. I started a health blog that I haven't had time to update. I work on photoshop, trying to learn the best way to edit photos. I'm writing a short book about the way Matt and I met. I'm learning "flight of the bumblebee" on the piano and writing a song about Parker on the guitar. Plus I am training for a marathon. Well, I'm trying to do all of these things, but the thing is it is hard to accomplish anything when my longest stretch of uninterrupted time is about an hour. Sometimes just taking a shower is my greatest accomplishment of the day. So I've started all these projects, but most of them aren't going anywhere.

I thought I was weird to have these feelings, but I was visiting teaching yesterday and come to find out the other two women (who are stay at home moms) feel the exact same way. I felt relieved. I'm not a weirdo! Well, at least not that weird. They spoke about their many projects and how their husbands don't understand it. I used to feel bad about not living up to my expectations, but I'm seeing it differently now.

This trying to do a million things isn't working though. So, I'm going to try to focus just on one thing at a time and maybe, just maybe, I'll finish something I'm working on. And of course, I'm raising one cute little boy which will be my greatest accomplishment. Even though I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything by playing with him all day, I'm really teaching him about the world and about his mother's love for him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Parker Update

Still the cutest boy in the whole world
with the biggest cheeks in the whole world

I am always so amazed at how fast babies grow! It seems like just yesterday I was cradling little Parker in my arms at the hospital. Now, he will jump up and down in my lap whenever I hold him. It's quite a workout. He is over 5 months old and learning new things every single day.
Parker in his jumperoo
the reason he tries to jump in my lap when I'm holding him at church
at least I can fit in an arm workout somewhere

Today I gave Parker his first haircut. It looks ok...from a distance. Next time I think I might leave the hair cutting to the professionals.

Parker has started solids and loves them. He opens his mouth so wide and gets mad if he doesn't get a spoonful of food fast enough. He loves his veggies...except peas, but who likes peas anyway. I was gagging the first time I was feeding them to him. Smelly, smelly peas. Yuck! But, like a good son, he ate most of them.

One day Parker was curious about my cup of water, so I showed him what it was. Now he loves drinking water from a cup. He gets more excited about it than about his toys. He does a pretty good job. About half the water makes it in his mouth, the other half, on his shirt.
I love his big blue eyes

When Parker turned 4 months he rolled over from tummy to back. I was so excited. He did it three times in a row. I went to get the video camera and then he never did it again. Never. Even to this day, more than a month later, he won't roll tummy to back. On a positive note, Parker did learn to roll back to tummy a couple of weeks ago and he does it everyday. He gets mad when he is stuck on him tummy. I try to remind him how to roll the other way, but he just won't listen. Stubborn little guy.

Parker can also sit up pretty well. I just put a pillow behind him for those inevitable falls backwards.

He also loves music. We are teaching him to bang on the piano and strum the guitar. Come to think of it, these lessons might backfire on us someday. I'll start thinking of places to hide the guitar now.

he just looks funny in this one

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What makes a baby smart?

That's a question that most moms want answered and tons of companies would like to tell you that their products are the answer, but the truth is more complicated than that in my opinion. I was a science teacher and am an admitted science geek, so I got my science fix researching some of this stuff. I actually learned most of this information in professional development classes (quantum learning), but wanted to apply it to babies. I thought that since I took all this time researching, I might share what I learned. Hope it's helpful.

What is smart?

First we need to define 'smart'. Most people think that intelligence is doing well at school, but that is only a teeny tiny portion of it. Studies by Howard Gardner have shown that there are actually 8 intelligences:
1. logical-mathematical (numbers, cause and effect)
2. linguistic-verbal (reading, talking)
3. spacial-visual (puzzles, drawing)
4. musical-rhythmic (instruments, clapping)
5. bodily-kinesthetic (moving, athletics, dancing)
6. interpersonal (interacting with others)
7. intrapersonal (analysing yourself)
8. naturalistic (organization, categorization)
So the real question is not "are you smart," but "how are you smart." Building an "intelligent" child should address each of these areas.

Big Brain
We have all heard that you can't grow brain cells and that is true, but studies by Dr. Marion Diamond have shown that smarter people have denser brains. This is because when you learn something a new neural connection is created. Ok, so what does that mean? Basically, your brain cell (or neurons) are connected to each other with extensions called dendrites and axon terminals. Learning creates more dendrites and axon terminals that connect one part of the brain to another. This is a huge idea! One can actually change the shape of their own brain by learning. "Neurons that fire together, wire together." So when someone is "smart" really they just have more connections between ideas. In turn, that means the more you learn, the easier it is to learn. You already know that though. Just think of a time you learned something. The way you learned it was to apply it to something you already new. If you didn't have any background knowledge, it was that much more difficult to learn. For example, it is easier to learn the guitar after you have already learned the piano.

Making Smarter Babies
How do you do it? Simple. Building more connections. Actually babies are born with an estimated 1000 trillion neural connections and by age ten this number will be reduced to approximately 500 trillion. This process is called pruning. Babies are wired to learn quickly, but if those don't use those neural connections, they lose them. That means exposing you little one to new sights, smells, textures, sounds, feelings, toys, locations, etc. is important in maintaining neural connections. Every new experience is a learning experience. This is a critical time in the babies development.

Do Baby Einstein DVDs Work?
Well, define "work"? It does stimulate the baby, but is that stimulation really teaching them anything? For example, it does not teach babies social interactions (interpersonal) because the TV is not (despite what they claim) interacting with your baby. Your baby might smile, but Baby Einstein doesn't care. In reality, when a baby smiles or coos, people will react and your baby learns from this interaction. What about the classical music? Well, music of all sorts will help your baby learn, but the so called "Mozart Effect" has been debunked as stated in this BBC article. More importantly, I personally do not recommend Baby Einstein because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies don't watch TV until their two. That's not to say that they can't see a little bit, but it should be limitted. There are many reasons for this. First of all, they can learn much more with real toy/parent interactions and secondly studies have shown a link between watching TV and ADHD. The TV screen is constantly changing scenes and sounds which does not develop long term attention span. Read this TIME article for more information on the negative effects of baby einstein and TV in general.
studies have shown that Baby Einstein DVDs are
detrimental to babies' language development

Baby Sign Language
Baby sign language is a powerful tool to teach language. It reinforces words both verbally and visually which makes creating neural connections that much easier. Basically, it makes learning language for the little guys easy because they can distinguish words easier with two different cues. Also, babies are more developmentally ready to make signs with their hands earlier than they have the coordination with their tongues and mouths to speak. This means babies can communicate earlier (translation: less crying). The benefits to baby are amazing. Signing babies develop a larger vocabulary earlier, they use longer sentences, have a larger IQ (by 12 points on average), and read earlier than their counterparts.
Baby signing 'more'
the first sign to teach your baby

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Swing Dancing

Matt and I used to dance...all...the...time! We started in High School and ran the RHS swing club. We performed at assemblies and other events. I went to college and was on the USU Swing Team where I had the opportunity to perform and teach often. Matt and I have even been paid to teach other people how to dance. At our wedding, we even pleased the crowd with a few dances...and then we stopped dancing. Figures. I would love to go dancing more often, but Matt wasn't as enthusiastic.

Dancing at Matt's House

Then, something changed. Matt and I went to the Harlem Nights dance in Cache Valley a week or so ago and we had so much fun. We forgot how much we enjoyed dancing. We also forgot that we were actually pretty good at it. So this renewed a desire to dance. Since then we have been trying new things in our kitchen and watching youtube for some new ideas. I love it.

Riverton High School Talent Show 2001

High School Performance 2002 for Half Time

Harlem Nights 2003: Hyrum, UT

Swingtime Swingsical 2004ish

The girls of the USU swing team 2004ish

the week after Matt got home from his mission
Sweaty after some intense dancing at BYU 2005

Dancing at BYU 2005

Swing Dancing during traffic jam 2006

dancing at our reception 2006

dancing at our reception 2006 doing the potato sack

dancing at our reception 2006 doing the May Pole

dancing at our reception 2006
my grandparent's backyard in Bluffdale

Happy Birthday Matt

I'm going to take the liberty of bragging about my husband. It's his birthday, so that is as good as any excuse to do so.
First of all, Matt is an amazing husband. We met in 10th grade at Riverton High School, and although I wasn't really into him at that point, he never gave up on me and we were best friends. He would and still would do anything for me. He is always putting me first. Yesterday he opened his birthday presents and I sort of spent a lot of money on one of them. He said that we should take it back and get something nice for me instead. He is always thinking of me.
Second of all, Matt is super smart. He can figure out how to do anything. He is especially good at teaching himself. About 2 years ago he worked for this mean old man in a mansion. The man made Matt run his businesses. Even though the man was mean, Matt learned a lot about accounting so Matt then started his own bookkeeping business. It wasn't too profitable so he got a job as a "junior accountant" at skincarerx (his current employer). Matt made all sorts of important contributions and they were so impressed that when they fired the controller they promoted Matt to take her place as accounting manager (a position that usually requires a degree). Among other things, Matt taught himself how to make a website. He bought textbooks and read them so he could do it. The website isn't finished (Matt is busy), but it is still pretty impressive. Check it out the search function. Matt even created the logo.
Matt is very ambitious and busy. Since Matt's promotion, he has been very busy at work and yet he still finds time to do everything else. He has full-time school at the university of phoenix and every tuesday he has class for 4 hours plus hours of homework. Matt is also very dedicated to being healthy. He usually wakes up at 6:00 to go running or will bike to work plus he goes to the climbing gym on lunch break. Matt also has the calling of ward clerk which means hours a week at the church. He is busy, but he saves every spare moment to spend with me.
Matt is a great father. He doesn't get to spend much time with Parker during the week (he doesn't even see him on some tuesdays), so he takes advantage of the weekends. Matt loves to take care of Parker during church on Sundays. Also, even though Matt is busy and wakes up early, he won't hesitate to help with Parker in the evening if I'm worn out. He loves playing with him.
Matt is the best and I thank Heavenly Father everyday that he is in my life.